It Is Dylan’s Last Chance.
I worked for days on Dylan’s new contract. Since this is quite literally Dylan’s last chance to raise his GPA before applying to colleges, I wanted it to be simple to understand, but adequately convey the seriousness of the situation.
It was two pages long but fairly simple. It covered the three things he needed to do, and the logical consequences of doing – or not doing – those three things.
- Be on time.
- Do your work.
- Turn in your work on time.
There was more to it – taking up half a page – but the gist is that he only needed to do those three simple things to reap the rewards.
At school, Dylan will earn the respect of teachers, raise his GPA, have opportunities to get letters of recommendation and enjoy his extracurricular activities. At home, Dylan will be treated like a responsible adult and enjoy the privileges he will have earned, like going out with friends, driving the car, and going out on weeknights.
We also clearly outlined possible negative consequences. This semester, since it is Dylan’s last chance and it is absolutely vital that Dylan get his work in every day, rather than at the end of each quarter, we wanted to make sure he knew that we would not be co-signing his college loans, or paying for his college applications, if he doesn’t exhibit college-worthy behavior. We also said that for each missing assignment, he will lose phone and electronics privileges until that missing assignment is turned in.
Gone are the days of, “Oh, I’ll just turn it in next week or whenever” – unless he wants to live until next week without his cell phone.
And hopefully, arriving instead, are days of, “I have to study tonight for history, but I finished my math test early today and started working on my AP paper!”
We sat with Dylan and explained the importance of this final contract. There is no point in giving him a contract during his senior year; by then, it’s too late to gauge whether or not he can handle the work load. We made sure he realized that this is his last chance – that this is quite serious, but that it only lasts until June. For such a short time span, we know he is able to stay on top of his school work.
We talked about our expectations and how sure we are that Dylan can do it – and that really, we just need to see – for sure – that he can do if he wants to move forward after high school
Then we gave Dylan the paper, specifically outlining our expectations. He read it through. He took his time, and took it seriously.
When he was finished, he didn’t say anything. He just sat there, fidgeting.
“Do you have any questions, concerns, comments?” I asked.
“Not really,” Dylan said. He fidgeted a little more then said, quite earnestly, “So what’s different about this one?”
I wanted to say, “This one guarantees that you’ll actually change your behavior!” But I did not.
I am not sure what I said, but I doubt if it makes any difference at all.